Sep 11, 2018

Broker titbits

Article by FIA

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Insurance is the bedrock of our society. FIA members play a vital role in ensuring society benefits from the best possible insurance cover to help them in the event of a catastrophe. Pick up the newspaper and every story has an insurance angle to it. And as an industry, we can all learn from each other - whether it’s passing on technical or business knowledge, sharing a point of view, or simply telling a story about something that’s happened to us.

We asked a couple of members to share whatever was on their mind to demonstrate this point.

  • Our industry is always (unfairly) getting a bad rap - Michelle Nicholls, Phoenix West Insurance Brokers

Write an article for FIA Insight magazine, they asked. No problem, I responded. And here I sit, a week later, overthinking the subject and trying to work out where to begin! My first instinct was to write about caring – so that’s what I have done. If you care enough about what you do in life (and I mean really care), you will go far. The same applies in our industry. If you care deeply about your clients and the industry, then you will love your work. I certainly do, and I have been in insurance since I left school. I know that I am not alone when I say insurance wasn’t my first choice of career. I merely needed a job, and one came along in the industry. However, the more time I spent in insurance, the more I learnt and loved what I was doing.

Insurance has a bad name because I believe many don’t understand it. But if you care enough to explain to clients and people, this can be turned around. Insurance is a grudge purchase. At the end of the day all a client is really buying is a claim.

From the start of a relationship with a client you need to explain the basic principles so that the client understands what they are paying premium for. If you can do this successfully, there shouldn’t be any misunderstandings at claim stage. I have luckily been blessed with many great teachers in my career and believe it is because I care and go the extra mile.

In my opinion, all the legislation and exams that are required to start a career in insurance put many people off, which is sad. I look around at functions and see mainly older (and wiser) faces around me. Not many kids dream of becoming an insurance broker or working for an insurance company. If the industry had a better reputation I’m sure there would be more young people interested.

One thing that I live by is my reputation. You cannot take a bad one back, so be careful what you do. Be ethical and honest in all your actions. And always remember to care for people and the work that you do. In this way we can change the unfair reputation we have been given.

  • Four common mistakes members make when using medical aid - Ruby Steenkamp, LMS Life Counselling 

"What a terrible medical aid! They don’t want to pay my account and I pay thousands of rands per year – for what?”

Is this what you often hear – or even say yourself? Nobody these days can go without a good hospital plan and gap cover. But medical aid can be con- fusing. A little bit of consumer advice can go a long way towards helping both medical aid schemes and their members. Unfortunately, without good advice there are many potential pitfalls to which a consumer can fall foul. And as consumers misuse their medical aid - either willfully or accidentally - the costs keep getting higher and higher.

Here are some common mistakes that people make when signing up for and using their medical aid:

  • Omission of declarations 
    Every small thing, even things that may seem insignificant, must be declared. Failure to do so could result in cancellation of members. Medical schemes may impose a three-month waiting period (in the case of a switch), or a 12-month waiting period (in the case of a new sign-up) on the condition in question. They may even over- look it completely. But it’s always best not to take the risk of leaving anything off a declaration form.
  • Wrong person completes chronic medication form
    Medical schemes sometimes require a specialist to complete an application form for chronic medication. If the wrong person submits the application, it could be rejected. Often the medical aid won’t give a reason for the rejection - which is where the FIA advisor comes in. We will be able to follow up with the medical scheme and keep track of the application. This will also en- sure the medication is registered on the relevant pharmacy system. Small things like these can really make a big difference.
  • Not checking exactly what is not covered
    In the case of pre-authorisation for a hospital procedure, a patient may not be fully aware of all the extra costs that he or she is not covered for, leaving them with an outstanding account after the procedure. As brokers, it is our job to advise clients on these matters and help them avoid un- expected bills and unnecessary use of gap cover.
  • Claiming without being admitted
    A patient must be physically admitted or their hospital plan or medical scheme will not cover the costs associated with visiting casualty. All tests, procedures and help in the casualty department will have to come out of the member’s own pocket unless they have additional day-to- day cover.

The member should also check first if they have to stay overnight and ask that the admission be arranged before tests are done in order for the costs associated with the  test to be covered. With the exception of a few products that have a casualties cover benefit, gap cover does not pay for this.

Overall, the best piece of advice we can give as medical aid advisors is to take care of your health, keep fit and care for the people you interact with!

  • Don’t stagnate. Innovate! - Stefan Duvenage, Voorpos Short-Term Insurance Advisors 

Perhaps a cliché, but there has never been a truer word spoken that the only constant is change. This rings especially true for the insurance industry. It is continuously evolving, adapting to outside influences and trends, as well as stakeholder demands. It therefore goes without saying that it is imperative for us not only to stay abreast of these changes, but to stay one step ahead and drive innovation.

One of my favourite sayings, per aspera ad astra, is a Latin phrase that means “through difficulties to the stars”. I believe that this is especially relevant today. We cannot get to
the top without going through some difficult times or changes. And if we really want to achieve the pinnacle of success and reach the stars, we have no option but to:

  • Adapt to our surroundings

  • Be transparent

  • Innovate, and

  • Stay client focused

This being said, we should never forget the foundation on which our success has been built: the wisdom of our seniors. Old-fashioned customer care will never go out of style. We just have to find new and improved ways to achieve the same results. In other words, we have to keep on innovating!

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